There’s a pair of public high school boys basketball teams who are lighting up the scoreboard in the 2017-18 season, keeping pace with some elite private and boarding school counterparts. By all accounts, they’re a lot of fun to watch. You just may need a snowmobile or camel to get to them.
According to MaxPreps’ current statistical leaders, the Springfield (Minn.) boys basketball team is the nation’s fourth-highest scoring team based on points-per-game average; the Tigers are currently averaging 90.2 points-per-game after 10 varsity outings. The only public school team nearly up to pace with Springfield is the squad from California City, which has averaged 86.4 points-per-game through 17 contests.
The common denominator between the teams? They’re both from schools in (completely opposite) extreme climates.
Springfield, Minn. sits almost exactly halfway between the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul and Sioux Falls, S.D. That makes the town of just more than 2,000 residents (and two hotels) a perma-frozen winter prairie throughout the basketball months; the average daily temperature (low and high, without windchill impact) in Springfield in January ranges from 4-23 degrees and from 9-28 degrees in February. The town has already had two days this month where the temperature never reached into the positive side of the ledger.
Perhaps if the Tigers need to thaw out they can head to California City. The Ravens play in the middle of the Mojave Desert, which means the average daily temperature ranges from 34-57 in January and 37-60 in February, though all those cooler temperatures are universally at night in the desert, meaning that by the time students are in school the exterior is practically a spring break climate. As one might expect, average temps are considerably higher in the summer months; average highs are 90, 97 and 96 degrees in June, July and August respectively.
So what’s the real driving force between the offensive success of the Tigers and Ravens? They thrive on different offensive models, the Ravens succeeding with a high volume of shots and a shooting percentage of 42 percent and 3-point field goal percentage of 32 percent. Springfield, meanwhile, shoots a much higher percentage from the field, currently converting on 55 percent of field goals inside the arc and an impressive 39 percent from the deep perimeter.
In the end, the only thing they truly seem to have in common is their access to lengthy time in the gym when it’s just too hot or cold to be outside. That sets both teams up for impressive seasons, provided they convert on their game plans and continue to fine tune their success.
So far, so good.